Syme Hut at sunrise, Mt Taranaki, Egmont National Park
Syme Hut is situated on the summit of Fanthams Peak, a secondary cone on the southern side of Mt Taranaki in Egmont National Park. At an altitude of just under 2000 metres, Syme Hut is the highest hut in Egmont National Park and offers trampers and climbers a superb vantage point from which to climb to the summit of Mt Taranaki, about 500 metres higher still. For those content to stay at the hut and relax, Syme Hut also boasts a view as stupendous as that from any hut in the North Island.
The original Syme Hut, built in the 1920s, was set into the lee side of a small rock outcrop (Pukehaupapa Peak) about 200 metres from the site of the present hut. There it was sheltered from the force of the prevailing westerly winds that frequently exceed hurricane force at this level, offering visitors a welcome respite from stormy conditions. However this also meant that the hut was frequently buried by very deep snowdrifts in winter, the weight of which eventually caused the hut to buckle and sag into a state of disrepair. The old hut was finally closed and replaced in the 1980s.
The replacement Syme Hut was prefabricated prior to being flown in to Fantham's Peak by helicopter. The present hut site is fully exposed to the prevailing winds, requiring that the hut be firmly tethered to the ground by four heavy steel cables to stop it from being blown away by storms. The exposed nature of this site means that less winter snow accumulates here than on the old hut site, although several metres of snow can still build up over a heavy winter. Indeed, in some winters the new hut can also be completely buried by snow and made difficult to find -- let alone enter -- although its sturdy construction means that it can easily withstand such a heavy load.